NHL to miss Olympics due to COVID-19 outbreak


The NHL and the NHL Players Association have reached an agreement not to participate in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games men’s hockey tournament in Beijing, multiple sources told ESPN.

The NHL and NHLPA negotiated participation in the 2022 and 2026 Olympics in the latest collective agreement after the NHL players failed to compete in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The only caveat for the Beijing Olympics, slated for February 2022, was whether the current NHL regular season was “materially affected” by COVID-19 postponements. As of December 21, the NHL has postponed 50 games due to epidemics in teams and suspended its season until Christmas, apparently reaching that threshold.

The NHL had until Jan. 10 to withdraw from Olympic participation without financial penalty and the NHLPA said it expected a decision on participation to be made before then.

An official announcement on the withdrawal from the Games is expected in the next 24 hours.

Attention will now turn to using the scheduled break for the Olympics – February 6-22 – to reschedule matches. The NHL All-Star Game is still scheduled for February 5.

Sources said the rescheduling could include games currently postponed or potentially higher games scheduled for later in the season, but there could be a lack of arena availability during the break. While the NHL has asked arenas not to book events during the break in case players do not participate in the Olympics, many buildings have booked concerts and other events, seeking to make up for lost revenue during the pandemic.

It is expected that there will still be some semblance of a break in the schedule. Predators general manager David Poile told ESPN 102.5 The Game in Nashville that he believes there will be a “trade-off” for the time players have free, with games crowded into the final week of this season. pause. He also pitched the idea that the regular season could be extended for a week.

News of the expected Olympic decision has been greeted with frustration and sadness by players who are believed to have played at the Beijing Games.

“I had the chance to be part of two [Olympics]”said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.” I’m so sorry for the guys who missed so many chances. It’s not something where it’s next year or you push back a few months. These are lifelong experiences that you don’t get very much as an athlete. “

Two Winnipeg Jets players who appeared to be heading for Team USA expressed regret on Tuesday.

“Yeah, that sucks. I think everyone was looking forward to that,” Kyle Connor said. “We made that a big part of our collective agreement as players, to bring back the Olympics. Whether it’s different circumstances to go to China with COVID and all, I think it would have been a great tournament. . “

Goalkeeper Connor Hellebuyck, a potential starter for the Americans, was concerned about his status for the 2026 Olympics in Italy.

“If the next one is in four years, I’ll be 32,” he said. “I know I’ll play my best hockey, but that will be a different story.

The Olympic rosters will now be filled with a mix of amateur and professional players playing in leagues outside of the NHL. This could include North American minor leagues and foreign professional leagues like the KHL of Russia. This was the setup for the teams at the Pyeongchang Olympics, where Russian Olympians won gold.

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